Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS)

Muscle weakness, memory problems, depression, insomnia, physical pain, nightmares. These are just a few examples of the problems that patients may experience following critical illness. Symptoms such as these which affect emotional, physical, and cognitive health are now being recognized as Post Intensive Care Syndrome, or PICS. Efforts to educate health care providers, patients, and families about Post Intensive Care Syndrome are underway. Explore our site to learn more about PICS.

Jun 10, 2018

Breaking it Down: Post Intensive Care Syndrome and Recovery

By Annie, Mayo ICU Nurse Practitioner, @andreab

Like we did with Prevention, we will break down Recovery into separate pieces to best highlight the unique recommendations that each domain of this syndrome (physical, mental, and emotional) has. But before we dive fully into this, let us spend some time this month discussing what leaving the ICU - and the hospital - may look like after critical illness/injury.

Critical illness/injury is often a life-changing event for the patient and family. Hours, days, weeks, and even months can be spent in the hospital with much of that time heavily depending on the assistance and guidance of health care professionals. Leaving the ICU and the hospital can often mean leaving behind that sense of security. This can lead to anxiety and can hinder the overall recovery process. However knowing that this is a common experience for many in itself can be helpful. Other tips for successfully transitioning out of the hospital include:

  • Working with a counselor and/or social worker prior to discharge to assist in coordination of needs
  • Understanding that some people recover safely and fully at home immediately following hospital discharge, while others may need a transition period at a skilled rehabilitation facility
  • Knowing that often times people won't be quite the "same" - at least initially - as they were before critical illness/injury. This is normal. 

Please view the following video created by the Society of Critical Care Medicine through the Thrive initiative for more information about discharging from the hospital following critical illness/injury:


Come back next month when we discuss Recovery: The Body as it relates to Post Intensive Care Syndrome.

In the meantime, join our conversation online. Have you or a loved one experienced critical illness/injury? You're not alone. Share your story and connect with others who have been on the same journey:

Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's Talk



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